Gregory Zamfotis wants to make a statement when he opens his fourth coffee shop in D.C. on Wednesday, adding to the District’s robust java offerings. He launched Gregorys Coffee in Brooklyn 12 years ago and peppered New York City with 26 locations, but he wants Washingtonians to know the District is HQ2.
Zamfotis thought about expanding to Boston or Philadelphia when he started looking outside the Big Apple, but ultimately chose D.C. His reasons provide a window into what out-of-town CEOs see when they come here on scouting trips. He was looking for a place he could expand rapidly, not open two or three shops.
“I came to D.C. and was blown away by the the new development on H Street [NE] and14th Street [NW],” Zamfotis says. “Doing tours and driving around to see so much is new. The food scene seemed to be really booming. The last few years it has been developing. People are really excited about the foodie scene,” he says.
There a bevy of new luxury apartment and condo buildings seeking retail operators for their ground floors, and many five- and ten-year leases are coming up in older buildings and more established neighborhoods.
The new Gregorys Coffee at 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW will serve the same experimental menu as the other three Gregorys Coffee locations, concentrated where downtown work crowds congregate. “We’re very progressive and innovative with offerings,” Zamfotis says. “A few months ago, we introduced a CBD-based latte with oat milk and a drop of strawberry syrup so it tastes like a gummy bear.”
You can add CBD oil to any of Gregorys’ drinks, according to Zamfotis. CBD is a legal chemical compound found in cannabis that does not have psychoactive properties. Most consume it for relaxation and to reduce pain and anxiety.
Other drinks include turmeric lattes, cold brew coffee, matcha lattes, almond milk mixed with activated charcoal, and green smoothies. Zamfotis says his chief goal is to provide high quality specialty coffee quickly.
The company now has a centralized kitchen in D.C., where bakers makes treats like gluten-free doughnuts and peanut butter banana bites. It also functions as a training center for new hires and continuing education center for established staff.
The Connecticut Avenue store will give out free 12 oz. drinks of any kind throughout the day on Wednesday. On Thursday, see if you can nab a pair of plastic glasses that match the company’s logo on the street. Gregorys employees will hand them out at the Farragut North, Farragut West, and Dupont Metro stations. Wear them into the new shop for a free 12 oz. drink on Thursday and Friday.
Gregorys Coffee will also mark the new store’s grand opening with a Thursday night latte art competition featuring Califia Farms almond milk. Any barista can compete for the chance to win a $750 cash prize. (Second place wins $500 and third place wins $250.) Registration is at 7 p.m. and the public competition kicks off at 8 p.m.
The hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Gregorys Coffee, 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW; gregoryscoffee.com